• These Bears have the ‘second-coolest job in the world’ — helping lead NASA comms

    Dylan Mathis, Debbie Sharp and James Hartsfield

    Whether you’re a space buff or simply watching the news, you’ve likely seen or read about America’s endeavors in space recently. From research taking place on the International Space Station, to a future return to the Moon, to commercialization of space closer to home, there’s plenty to highlight — and there’s a good chance a Baylor graduate helped bring that information to the public.

    From Castellaw Communications Center to Johnson Space Center, Baylor graduates are well-represented in NASA communications. No fewer than six Baylor graduates interact in various roles in sharing news and information from space, from press releases and news articles to videos and images you might see in a magazine (or even on Disney+).

    “Getting to work with storytellers for the commercial crew program and for the International Space Station — honestly, it’s the second-coolest job in the world,” says Dylan Mathis (BA ’94, MA ’96), integration manager for operational programs in the External Relations Office at Johnson Space Center. “We work with astronauts to tell their story and communicate to the world all they do to benefit us on Earth through scientific research and exploration.”

    A big part of that is collecting and sharing information that many people don’t know — like that the International Space Station represents more than two decades of continuous human presence in space thanks to a global cooperative partnership, allowing research in a zero-gravity environment that couldn’t take place on Earth.

    In his role, Mathis (pictured above, left) works with at least five other Baylor graduates who apply the communications expertise they learned in Waco to telling the story of the U.S. space program:

    • Brandi Dean (BA ’03) — deputy manager for communications and public affairs, Johnson Space Center
    • James Hartsfield (BA ’85) — manager of communications and public affairs, Johnson Space Center (pictured above, right, at Mission Control in 1993)
    • Mitch Youts (BA ’96) — media producer and special projects, Johnson Space Center
    • Glen Peterson (BA ’94) — ISS mission television operations supervisor for MORI Associates, a NASA contractor (overseeing the team responsible for routing and archiving all imagery received from the ISS)
    • Debbie Sharp (BA ’87, MA ’88) — communications manager with Barrios Technology, a NASA contractor (coordinating strategic communications about the Orion spacecraft that will take astronauts back to the Moon) (pictured above, center)

    With so many Bears about, there’s a distinct green-and-gold hue within NASA’s demanding communications efforts that blend science, technology, exploration and a little bit of that childhood wonder that comes from space.

    “Honestly, even as a person who has devoted his life to describing things, I have to say it is an indescribable career to work at NASA and at the Johnson Space Center,” Hartsfield says. “It can include literally the highest highs and the deepest tragedies. I’ve worked with many of the most brilliant — and nicest — people in the universe. Their goal is to push technology to the limit every day so that they can expand human experience, capability and achievement. There is no better content and inspiration for a storyteller.”

    Sic ’em, Baylor space communicators!

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